• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of bullwhoWHO Home PageBulletin Home PageBulletin Home PageAbout Bulletine-mail AlertSubmissions
Bull World Health Organ. 1994; 72(3): 481–494.
PMCID: PMC2486704

Quantifying disability: data, methods and results.


Conventional methods for collecting, analysing and disseminating data and information on disability in populations have relied on cross-sectional censuses and surveys which measure prevalence in a given period. While this may be relevant for defining the extent and demographic pattern of disabilities in a population, and thus indicating the need for rehabilitative services, prevention requires detailed information on the underlying diseases and injuries that cause disabilities. The Global Burden of Disease methodology described in this paper provides a mechanism for quantifying the health consequences of the years of life lived with disabilities by first estimating the age-sex-specific incidence rates of underlying conditions, and then mapping these to a single disability index which collectively reflects the probability of progressing to a disability, the duration of life lived with the disability, and the approximate severity of the disability in terms of activity restriction. Detailed estimates of the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lived are provided in this paper, for eight geographical regions. The results should be useful to those concerned with planning health services for the disabled and, more particularly, with determining policies to prevent the underlying conditions which give rise to serious disabling sequelae.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (2.3M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Murray CJ. Quantifying the burden of disease: the technical basis for disability-adjusted life years. Bull World Health Organ. 1994;72(3):429–445. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Murray CJ, Lopez AD. Global and regional cause-of-death patterns in 1990. Bull World Health Organ. 1994;72(3):447–480. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Murray CJ, Lopez AD, Jamison DT. The global burden of disease in 1990: summary results, sensitivity analysis and future directions. Bull World Health Organ. 1994;72(3):495–509. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Omran AR. The epidemiologic transition. A theory of the epidemiology of population change. Milbank Mem Fund Q. 1971 Oct;49(4):509–538. [PubMed]
  • Rogers RG, Rogers A, Belanger A. Active life among the elderly in the United States: multistate life-table estimates and population projections. Milbank Q. 1989;67(3-4):370–411. [PubMed]
  • van Ginneken JK, Dissevelt AG, van de Water HP, van Sonsbeek JL. Results of two methods to determine health expectancy in The Netherlands in 1981-1985. Soc Sci Med. 1991;32(10):1129–1136. [PubMed]
  • Wilkins R, Adams OB. Health expectancy in Canada, late 1970s: demographic, regional, and social dimensions. Am J Public Health. 1983 Sep;73(9):1073–1080. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Verbrugge LM, Lepkowski JM, Imanaka Y. Comorbidity and its impact on disability. Milbank Q. 1989;67(3-4):450–484. [PubMed]
  • Rice DP, LaPlante MP. Medical expenditures for disability and disabling comorbidity. Am J Public Health. 1992 May;82(5):739–741. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Bulletin of the World Health Organization are provided here courtesy of World Health Organization


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    PubMed Central articles cited in books
  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...